Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist, confirmed he is returning to the Badgers after the NFL advisory committee said he's a likely third-round pick if he entered the 2012 draft.
"I believe that I am mentally ready (for the NFL), but I think I need to become stronger and faster and I believe another year in the program will most definitely get me to that level," Ball said. "I do believe that I need to come back for my degree because education is most important and that will give me another year to become a better football player. I believe it's a win-win situation."
Ball's 39 touchdowns in 2011 tied Barry Sanders' single-season FBS record, and he rushed for 1,923 yards. However, the 2012 draft is filling up quickly with intriguing running back prospects, with Ball rated as the sixth-best running back and No. 80-ranked prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com.
Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman have already declared they are leaving early for the 2012 draft. Juniors Trent Richardson from Alabama and Virginia Tech's David Wilson could soon follow suit, as could Oregon's LaMichael James, all Top 100 prospects by NFLDraftScout.com along with seniors Doug Martin from Boise State and Isaiah Pead from Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Peter Konz, the No. 1 center and No. 25 overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, is leaning toward entering the draft, according to a report by the Wisconsin State Journal. Ball will be returning for his senior season, but he could find improving his draft stock difficult minus Konz on the offensive line and quarterback Russell Wilson.